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October 18, 2018

*-- After Kavanaugh, lawmakers spar over Trump judge appointments --*

Inventory2018The Senate judiciary committee is set to begin confirmation hearings Wednesday morning on President Donald Trump's next batch of judicial nominees -- over objections from Democrats who say the panel is trying to go ahead with the process without their consent.

The hearings, which start at 10 a.m. EDT, are being held despite the fact that at least some of the Democrats on the committee were on recess in their home states. The hearings, scheduled for Wednesday and Oct. 24, come days after Senate Democrats struck a deal with Trump to confirm 15 of his federal judge picks so they could begin recess and return to their home states ahead of the midterm elections Nov. 6.

The committee on Wednesday will hold hearings for several federal judges -- Thomas Barber for the middle district of Florida, Wendy Williams Berger for the middle district of Florida, Corey Landon Maze for the northern district of Alabama, Rodney Smith for the southern district of Florida and T. Kent Wetherell II for the northern district of Florida -- and Allison Jones Rushing for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The hearing next week is likely to feature nominees for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco -- a panel criticized by Trump for being too liberal. That court has been behind a number of rulings that have blocked efforts by Trump on immigration, including the president's so-called travel ban and an effort to punish "sanctuary cities."

Democrats on the judiciary committee sent a letter to panel chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, calling for the two hearing dates to be postponed.
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"The committee has never before held nominations hearings while the Senate is in recess before an election," the letter reads.

"The handful of nominations hearings that have been held during a recess have been with the minority's consent, which is not the case here -- in fact, we were not even consulted."

Grassley struck back with his own letter to ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., saying she agreed to the dates "with full knowledge that the Senate could go into recess before then."

The hearing dates had been postponed from September because of the delayed confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who faced additional hearings over allegations of sexual misconduct.

"It's unfair to the nominees, who have already flown to Washington, D.C., and made travel arrangements for their families, to further delay this hearing," Grassley wrote.

A spokeswoman for Feinstein said that at the time the ranking member and chairman discussed the schedule for the hearings, "at no point did we think there was a possibility of going into recess before October 29" before the early adjournment last week, Politico reported.

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